Live to Ride is pure adrenaline—a full-throttle exploration of motorcycles that pushes to the limit, with heart-pounding accounts of riding the greatest bikes of all time, all over the world.
“Live to ride, ride to live.” For many motorcycle riders, these words express life’s guiding principle. Just take a look at the patch emblazoned on the jackets of legions of riders. Whether they’re roaring down an empty highway on two wheels at an insane speed, hopping on for a few mind-boggling loops of motocross, joining in the “rolling thunder” of a veritable outlaw motorcycle club, or just cruising on a Harley on a Sunday afternoon, motorcyclists of all stripes share a common love of the freedom that is riding.
Wayne Johnson, a lifelong motorcycle-lover and acclaimed writer, takes us around the globe and onto the terrain where the most extreme, thrilling forms of riding happen. Johnson shows where it all began more than a hundred years ago when the first motorcycle evolved from the bicycle and lands us on the track today with some of the world’s highest-paid athletes— professional motorcycle road racers. From there we go inside radically different competitions like the vertigo-inspiring “Widowmaker Hillclimb” and the fastest land racing on the planet at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Johnson also offers an inside look at the legendarily secretive culture of biker clubs with firsthand accounts of his own wild rides with an outlaw club. In every one of these venues, you aren’t just passing through as an observer—you are on a bike, racing across new and undiscovered country, the horizon your only destination.
If you have ever wondered what it’s like to climb on a motorcycle and feel its engine roar to life, or have actually done it and felt the rush of flying off into the wild blue yonder, or have simply been intrigued by this iconic part of American culture and history, hold on tight for this irresistible, one-of-a-kind journey into motorcycling.
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Wayne Johnson is the acclaimed author of White Heat and four novels. He has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and held a Chesterfield Film Project Fellowship in Hollywood. A long-time faculty member at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, he also teaches screenwriting at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Wayne has lived, breathed, and dreamed bikes since he was just a kid craving the freedom of the open road. He currently rides a Ducati ST-4.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Call of the Open Road
Picture a vast, open landscape with towering snow-capped peaks in the distance. In the foreground is a winding two-lane road. You are on that road, which curves left now, and you lean with the road as if carried on a breeze.
You, in this landscape, are not in a car, but riding feet off the road as if on some magic carpet, the pavement rushing by lazily under your feet.
The wind tosses your hair. The sun shines warmly on your face. On either side of you is sage, blue-green and sweet smelling.
You may or may not be smiling, but there is something glowing within you regardless, some deep, elemental satisfaction here.
Here you are in it, this landscape, not just passing through. If you reached out, you could touch that blooming sage which is dotted with bright yellow flowers. In fact, to remind yourself of that, you drop your boots down until they are roughly abraded by the asphalt under you.
Where the road dips the air is cooler, refreshing, a scent of water in it.
Here there are no windows to see through. No windshield between you and what is before you.
You can smell everything, taste it, touch it. This landscape writes itself on your body, mile after mile.
Because you are riding in it on a motorcycle—a machine that is both mechanical miracle and oddity. After all, why would anyone choose to travel unprotected like this, out in the open, when the comforts of a car are available?
Earlier, and for some still, in this dream landscape the rider would be on a horse.
But that is what a motorcycle is, after all, an iron horse, and our bikers cowboys of another age.
We dream of riding, in landscapes and through them. Of adventures. Of mountain heights and desert stretches.
Motorcycles enable us to enter landscapes that are both real and imagined.
If you are an American, or anyone thrilling to the myth of the American frontier, you are astride a Harley-Davidson, the motor an enormous V-twin threading you through this landscape with an accompanying rumble— rolling thunder, enthusiasts call it.
Traveling at a leisurely sixty miles per hour in fifth gear, you drop down to fourth and crack open the throttle.
Now the engine, once loping, surges, vibrating with a certain intoxicating violence.
Seventy, eighty, ninety. One hundred miles per hour. Now the landscape has taken on another quality entirely. Those once gentle sweeping turns are flying at you, you forcing the bike through them, hard left, now hard right, your right foot peg grinding into the pavement, this turn a long sweeper of decreasing radius, forcing you with each second to angle the bike over further, your body tensed.
You can only glide so far to the outside of the turn before you run out of pavement, a consequence of this kind of turn.
Traveling at one hundred miles per hour, the wind is a veritable gale in your face, which you lean into as if some great weight.
Instead of hitting your brakes, and hard, you push your luck.
The sweeper empties into a long straightaway. Victory!
Orienting yourself over the bike as if using a gun sight, hunched over the gas tank, you twist the throttle full open.
Your horse, your scooter, your bike surges, the speedometer still climbing—110, 115, 120 miles per hour.
For a dresser like you are on, this is about the limit.
And it’s plenty. That breeze is a hurricane now, threatening to knock you right off the bike. The bike is vibrating like some demented tuning fork. You can’t see anything in the rearview mirrors, the bike shakes so fiercely. A bug hits you in the face with the force of a bullet. Your heart is clunking away in your chest, your hands shaking as if palsied, something in you needing to engage in this boxing match with the bike, which forces you to hold the 120 just over the upcoming rise in the road, and here you are over it, headed down, and down, and down, nearly weightless, backing off the throttle and that big V-twin engine “compression rapping,” making a pretty staccato sound, the engine slowing the bike as if you’d thrown out an anchor.
And, in seconds, you are again just lazily approaching the mountains rising out of this plain around you, but now with this sweet, satisfied something in you, the residue of your burst of speed. And here in the heat there is a certain joy in knowing you will soon be there, the air so cool you will have to stop the bike and put on your heavier jacket.
In the mountains the air will smell of snowmelt, and fresh, resinous pine, and wet earth.
Stopped along the shoulder, headed into those mountains, you’ll lean against your bike feeling like Brando in The Wild One, Winnebagos, buses, cars going by, kids waving to you and their parents scolding them for drawing your attention to them. You’ll light up a Camel, unfiltered. You don’t smoke, but when you ride the bike you do. It reminds you of being twelve, or fifteen, or twenty, you and your buddies riding dirt bikes, cadging cigarettes from one another, smoking them with a certain bravado.
Here, on the Harley, the world opens to you. New again like that.
You have just what you need and no more. A tent and camping gear. Some cash in your pocket: for gas, and for meals, dinner perhaps, at a ramshackle restaurant that looks pretty much as it did in the thirties. Peeling paint. A cockeyed porch, over it a buzzing neon sign, here, in the Rockies, that sign announcing Ruth’s Kitchen (Salt Lake City, Utah), or the Overland Express (Bozeman, Montana), or the Renegade (Rock Springs, Wyoming). You’ll order a steak and baked potato, put the sour cream on the potato—and it won’t be low-fat, it’ll be full-fat, rich, creamy, satisfying. There will be families around the other tables, efficient-looking parents in travel-crumpled clothes, and the kids will give you surreptitious glances, afraid but curious, and the parents will steer them away from looking, you in your leathers, spotted with bits of bugs, oil-stained and wrench-roughened, dangerous.
You’ll smile. It’s a sweet smile, too. It says, If you dare, come on. There’s a life outside the box waiting for you. Think about it, kid.
Most turn away, shy.
Freedom, you know, is dangerous. It may cost you your life. But then, since the motorcycle bug bit you decades earlier, you’ve accepted that.
It’s the price you pay for riding.
But there is this about touring: What you’ve just experienced, getting out there into that mountain landscape (which, incidentally, is the most common dream of motorcycling, is just one kind among tens of kinds of riding)—
No such riding exists.
Real touring is both better and worse than the dream of it. It is something that cannot be fully imagined, has to be experienced. Because riders, most anyway, won’t give you the whole picture.
The flip side.
Here, you leave some major city, yearning for open spaces and to connect with something elemental— visceral, one of my Ivy League colleagues called it, his lip curling with contempt, this colleague someone who wouldn’t so much as think to get on a bike.
Let’s say you want to head to the Rockies as in the Great American Touring Dream you’ve just experienced. You’re in Chicago, down from the Twin Cities to pick up your old friend Rat, who was to go with you and take some of the edge off. Rat, though, has bowed out. Too much work, matters off-kilter at home. So you’re alone, which makes things easier and excites you.
Now, you’re really Bronson, from that starry-eyed early-seventies soft metaphysical show Then Came Bronson, where Bronson, week after week, rode the lonely highways on his Harley, saving distressed maidens in halter tops, calming mayhem, giving displays of his karate skills, and offering profound Zen motorcycle insights like, “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be,” throwing his leg over the saddle and riding off into the sunset unblemished (but for a bruise or two on his hands from throwing those perfectly timed karate chops), his jeans neatly pressed and his hair looking perfect.
But for you, in typical midwest August fashion, the mercury’s been hovering around one hundred, the humidity the same.
It’s been a dry summer, so you’ve reasoned an old rain suit you’ve borrowed will do the trick in a pinch. No need to go out and buy rainproof booties to cover your engineer boots, either, or a vest to put under your jacket if it gets too cold. You can’t even think in terms of rain, much less cold.
You’ve bolted a rack on your bike, strapped a pack to it, in the pack your ground pad, sleeping bag, tent, canteen, cooking gear, and one-burner Coleman stove. You’ve got a radio that operates off your bike, speakers in your helmet. You’ve got all the clothes you need. The lighter clothes and your hiking boots are in your tank bag, and on the top of it, under a clear plastic cover, your map, now Illinois.
All that gear makes your bike handle differently, a bit top heavy.
You kiss the wife, husband, lover, girlfriend, boyfriend good-bye. (Or, here, shake hands with Rat.)
You throw your leg over the saddle and hit the starter button. Boy, is this the bee’s knees, you think!
But you have to get moving, and quick—out in the sun in your black leather you’ll die of heat prostration if you don’t.
So you head out onto the Lincoln Expressway just after seven, and some crazed commuter bored with his job decides he’ll spice up his morning by seeing how close he can get the bumper of his Hummer to your rear tire. (Or it’s some retro Gen Xer in a lavender Pacer trying to shake off last night’s ...
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Book Description Atria Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 141655033X. Bookseller Inventory # Z141655033XZN
Book Description Atria Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 141655033X. Bookseller Inventory # Z141655033XZN
Book Description Atria Books 2011-06-07, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 141655033X. Bookseller Inventory # Z141655033XZN
Book Description Atria Books 2011-06-07, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9781416550334B
Book Description 2011. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VS-9781416550334
Book Description Atria Books, United States, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 211 x 142 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In LIVE TO RIDE, the extraordinary writing of Wayne Johnson makes readers feel like participants, not just observers: whether it s roaring down an empty highway at an insane speed on two wheels, hopping on for a few mindboggling loops of motocross, or joining in the rolling thunder of a veritable outlaw motorcycle club, Wayne has done it all himself and brings us along for the ride. As he says, Here you are in it, this landscape, not just passing through. This book is all about the adventure of riding as well as the colorful groups and fascinating that history that goes along with it. Some topics covered include: the history of the motorcycle, beginning more than a hundred years ago when it evolved from the bicycle; what it means to ride a Ducati vs. BMW; inside looks at diverse racing venues like the vertigo-inspiring Widowmaker Hillclimb and the fastest land racing in the world at the Bonneville Salt Flats; and what biker clubs are, with first hand accounts of Wayne s own wild rides with an outlaw club. LIVE TO RIDE is sure to touch many kinds of readers: those who have ever wondered what it s like to hop on a motorcycle; those who have actually done it and felt the rush of pleasure that goes along with zooming off; or those who just like to read about people having wild, life-expanding adventures; and finally the many readers intrigued by this fascinating, important part of modern American culture. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781416550334
Book Description Simon and Schuster. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 141655033X
Book Description Atria Books, United States, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 211 x 142 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In LIVE TO RIDE, the extraordinary writing of Wayne Johnson makes readers feel like participants, not just observers: whether it s roaring down an empty highway at an insane speed on two wheels, hopping on for a few mindboggling loops of motocross, or joining in the rolling thunder of a veritable outlaw motorcycle club, Wayne has done it all himself and brings us along for the ride. As he says, Here you are in it, this landscape, not just passing through. This book is all about the adventure of riding as well as the colorful groups and fascinating that history that goes along with it. Some topics covered include: the history of the motorcycle, beginning more than a hundred years ago when it evolved from the bicycle; what it means to ride a Ducati vs. BMW; inside looks at diverse racing venues like the vertigo-inspiring Widowmaker Hillclimb and the fastest land racing in the world at the Bonneville Salt Flats; and what biker clubs are, with first hand accounts of Wayne s own wild rides with an outlaw club. LIVE TO RIDE is sure to touch many kinds of readers: those who have ever wondered what it s like to hop on a motorcycle; those who have actually done it and felt the rush of pleasure that goes along with zooming off; or those who just like to read about people having wild, life-expanding adventures; and finally the many readers intrigued by this fascinating, important part of modern American culture. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9781416550334
Book Description Atria Books, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 274 pages. 8.50x5.50x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk141655033X
Book Description Atria Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 141655033X *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI757237